Who Created Numbers?


The Babylonian society used a cuneiform method of writing that included numerical characters; this is the earliest-known form of numbers, meaning that, as far as humans know, the Babylonians created numbers. This system of numerical writing is about 5,000 years old, and it is a base-60 system as opposed to a base-10 system, which is what most humans use for counting and mathematics in the modern world. Time measurements, in which an hour consists of 60 minutes and a minute consists of 60 seconds, are one example of a sexidecimal, or base-60, numerical system that is alive and well in the modern world.

The next-oldest numerical system after the Babylonian base-60 system, and the first base-10 counting system known to man, was developed by the ancient Egyptians. Although this system used a specific hieroglyph for each power of 10, it did not have a symbol for zero. However, ancient Egyptian society spans 3,000 years of history, and much of human knowledge of this society is based on records from relatively late periods in ancient Egyptian history. For example, no records of mathematical systems that existed at the time of the construction of the pyramids of Giza exist, although such structures would have been difficult to construct without the assistance of mathematics.